Minolta XE with Lenses

Mid-2019 Update

posted in: Personal Essay, Photography, Reading, Writing | 0

It’s hard to believe that 2019 is half over. I had intended to post monthly updates but have fallen short of that goal. I hope this mid-year review will help kickstart better habits.

2018 was a rough year due to my mother passing away at the very end of 2017 and dealing with the emotional and practical aftermath. I also changed jobs in 2018 which consumed a lot of my time and energy.

2019 has been a better year so far. I’m getting comfortable with the job and all the practical aspects of dealing with my mom’s passing have been wrapped up.

I’ve traveled a bit so far this year. I tagged along with Holly when she had a conference in Seattle in January. I had a surprisingly pleasant trip to Cleveland for a conference in April. And Holly and I recently returned from a vacation in Carmel-by-the-Sea which will be a post of its own sometime soon.

Earlier this year, I outlined something akin to goals and this time of year is a good time to assess what I’ve done so far and what I have not done.

Here’s what I wrote at the beginning of the year (in italics) with my updates:

Basically, I just want to do more of everything in 2019 than I was able to in 2018. I think getting back to my monthly updates will help with accountability and not letting too much time pass without working on anything.

I was not very attentive to my monthly updates having only posted updates for March and April.

I want to focus more on this blog as I had some specific intentions as to what I want to do with it. I also want to get back to working on our food blog, SimpleGoodness. We had had a food blog ever since moving to Philadelphia 7 years ago, but we stopped updating it a little over a year ago. Fairly recently, we dusted it off and renamed it. We still haven’t done much with it since then, but I hope to do more with it in the coming year.

I would like to try to make the blogs more of a focus. In the past, they’ve been more of a side project that I work on after I work on other things. I normally enjoy working on them and often wonder what satisfaction I may get from them if I posted more consistently.

Not only did I not post many monthly updates, I also did not post much in general. I wrote eight posts for the year here so far so, clearly, I can do much better.

I only wrote 4 posts for SimpleGoodness, all very early in the year. We moved our old blog to a new host with good intentions but ran into some technical issues which I still haven’t fully addressed. And I think, in general, neither of us currently has much enthusiasm for it. But the option to return to it is always there. Given how infrequently I’ve been blogging, I would prefer to focus my energies here in the near term.

I also have not seriously addressed the main point of this blog, namely to talk more specifically about how to be more creative during this part of my life.

I have long wanted to make blogging a more routine part of my writing practice but have always been inconsistent with it. Remedying this was a goal at the beginning of the year, and I plan to be better about it.

And, of course, I want to be much more attentive to my creative writing and drawing than I was in 2018 while, hopefully, not losing any momentum with my photography.

Luckily, there’s more to my life than the blogs, and I have had better success in these areas. I haven’t drawn much, but I have been working on some creative writing projects and continue to be enthusiastic about my photography.

So far this year, I finished two new short stories and have two more in the works. I also had a collection of my stories professionally edited and am currently working on some revisions based on the suggestions of the editor.

I feel like I am continuing to improve as a photographer. I’ve been working more with film photography and have been really enjoying it. Last year, I posted 429 film photos to Flickr. This year, I have already posted 435.

I continue to expand my options in terms of cameras and lenses which is one reason for the uptick in the number of photos shot on film. I bought three new-to-me lenses from my Minolta XE: a Quantaray 28 f/2.8; a Minolta Celtic 135mm f/3.5; and a Minolta Rokkor 35mm f/2.8. The Minolta may be my current favorite film camera, and it is also the one I have the most lenses for. It came with a Minolta Rokkor 50mm f/1.7, and, at the end of last year, I bought a Sears 70-210mm f/4 lens.

Minolta XE with Lenses
Minolta XE with Lenses

I did buy one new camera but that was basically to replace the Flexaret Automat that started having advancing issues. I’m not sure it’s worth the money to have it fixed. I tried some basic repairs myself but with no luck. I had just started having better luck understanding how to take good photos with it so I’m disappointed that it’s currently inoperable. Although I am intrigued by twin reflex cameras, I ended up buying a Pentacon six TL so that I have another medium format option in addition to the Diana F+.

Pentacon six TL
Pentacon six TL

It’s all a bit ambitious knowing how difficult it is for me to be productive while working for a living, but I need to be better about capitalizing on what time I have. I know from previous years that I’m capable of doing more than I did in 2018 so I will head into 2019 optimistically.

2018 was a rough year, and I have been more productive so far this year despite falling short of my expectations in some areas. But the year is only half over, and I still have plenty of time to make 2019 and even more rewarding year.

My reading since my last update included two exceptional memoirs: Dani Shapiro’s Inheritance and Tara Westover’s Educated. It also included a binge of Star Wars materials during our trip to Carmel. I wanted some light vacation reading and a few series of graphic novels (Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir and Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith) and E.K. Johnston’s Ahsoka fit the bill. I also read Christie Golden’s Dark Disciple, but I found that to be a bit disappointing. Overall, I was pleased with my decision to delve deeper into the new Star Wars canon for some summer reading. I also started Henry Miller’s Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymous Bosch which I have read a few times before. As of this writing, I haven’t quite finished it, but it is always a nice choice for a trip to that part of California.

April 2019 Reading Update

Books Read in 2019

  • The Way the World Ends, Jess Walter (Kindle book)
  • There’s No Place Like Home, Edan Lepucki (Kindle book)
  • Controller, Jesse Kellerman (Kindle book)
  • At the Bottom of New Lake, Sonya Larson (Kindle book)
  • Falls the Shadow, Skip Horack (Kindle book)
  • The Only Harmless Great Thing, Brooke Bolander (Kindle book)
  • Sabrina, Nick Drnaso (Kindle book)
  • Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng (Kindle book)
  • Asymmetry, Lisa Halliday (Kindle book)
  • Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back), Jeff Tweedy (Kindle book)
  • Washington Black, Esi Edugyan (Kindle book)
  • Boca Raton, Lauren Groff (Kindle book)
  • The Hillside, Jane Smiley (Kindle book)
  • Ninth Street Women, Mary Gabriel
  • Amaro, Brad Thomas Parsons
  • The Crying of Lot 49, Thomas Pynchon
  • Are You My Mother?, Alison Bechdel (Library book)
  • Zama, Antonio di Bennedetto
  • Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love, Dani Shapiro (Kindle Book)
  • Educated, Tara Westover (Kindle Book)
  • Star Wars: Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith Vol. 2: Legacy’s End, Charles Soule (Kindle Book)
  • Darth Maul – Son of Dathomir #1-4, Jeremy Barlow (Kindle Book)
  • Dark Disciple: Star Wars, Christie Golden (Kindle Book)
  • Star Wars: Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith Vol. 3: The Burning Seas, Charles Soule (Kindle Book)
  • Star Wars: Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith Vol. 4: Fortress Vader, Charles Soule (Kindle Book)
  • Ahsoka, E.K. Johnston (Kindle Book)

This Creative Midlife Posts in 2019

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